Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Arena surfaces and other elements of horsey life

Do you know what is best about fresh loose woodchips surface? It smells gorgeous. Unfortunately, the advantages end there! Oh, no sorry, apparently it is also cheap. The one I am working on provides very deep going, it's slippery when wet, it is hard for instructors to move about on not to mention for the horses, it's uneven as well as moves easily. In other words - it's bad. I would not be surprised if horses developed tendon/ligament problems on it. I have a doubtful pleasure to teach on such surface during a week. Apart from free aromatherapy sessions it doesn't provide much enjoyment.
An internet source says: Woodchip was the first riding weather surface ever to be produced. In these early days, chip could be purchased from any UK timber mill as it was not a specialised riding surface as such – simply, all those years ago, the only one available at the time. There were initial problems because of this – every timber mill puts different woods through their machines and cuts chip differently with different blades, they still do, so there is no regulation over the chip which is when problems can arise when using it…..the chunks are too large, they wedge in the horses feet, they don’t bed in an settle, the wood is too soft, etc
In comparison to what the modern market has on offer the woodchip is painfully old fashioned.
It is enough to watch horses working on it for few hours a day to know they would rather be anywhere but on it.
I personally adore light coloured surfaces alike Ecotrack of Martin Collins.

My second Sunday at the Barnfield Riding School went well. There was no accidents and I had a few very happy clients. There is one group however, which really needs sorting. They are so miserable that I bet the ponies feel it and have the worst time of the day. I really wonder why some kids ride if they don't enjoy it. Next time I am going to tell them that if they don't stop looking as if they were taking part in some funerary customs, they will have to dismount and lead the ponies around instead (I wish! ;).
When I was a child I was so happy and excited to be able to ride that I had a wild grin on my face throughout the whole ride.

I am still awaiting for dates for my dressage training. I presume they will be sometime in mid December. Waiting isn't really a problem for me but I would rather know earlier so I can arrange for transport and coordination of all the little things that needs to be put together.
I am in two minds as to the choice of the horse. Henry's owner is happy to give the training a go but she is yet to decide whether she thinks it will be good for her horse to be trained by one person and ridden at home by the other. Jenny is happy for me to take Hamlet but he is stabled an hour away from the trainer's centre. Considering I will event Hammie a bit next season I would love to take him but we will just have to see how it goes.
Once I know the dates I will get the action wheels rolling :)


Beckz said...

I'm not sure I have ever ridden on a surface I really liked. THe best one was rubber chip and sand but it shifted and was very hard underneath, so in the landing spot after the jump it was very unforgiving.

Always too deep or too hard. You cant win.

Unknown said...

When I show jumped I liked good grass surface (but I don't like it now as don't really like to stud anymore unless absolutely necessary)or well maintained sand with rubber.
For flatwork I like silica sand and fine rubber.
But I am yet to ride on a 'perfect' surface ;)))

Lasell Jaretzki Bartlett said...

I wonder if some games might bring out the joy of riding for the grumpy group you mention. Even giving them the task of desiging some, either for themselves or together with you. Even making up imaginary places and obstacles, so instead of asking a student to ride to A and circle, we might designate Lake Loopydupe at A and their job is to ride around it, then hurry (fast walk? trot? canter?) to Magic Mountain where they stop and stand with eyes closed absorbing 5 seconds of Magic... and so on. The students have to be developing their riding skills in order to navigate the imaginary places. Just an idea...

Unknown said...

That sounds brilliant. There are two problems with it: 1) I am rubbish with children and bored with their 'whatever' attitude 2) ponies are not suitable for much of a play..:(
The first bit I am still working through. The second is beyond my influence unfortunately as I don't get to work with the ponies apart from when they are ridden by beginners.
However, I am going to have a go at geography in the arena:) I tried a few games this Sunday and actually managed to get some smiles on the grumpy faces so it must be the way forward.
Thank you again ljb, appreciate your input :)

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